Discover Worlds of Adventure
The world of Myrrah is best traversed by ship. Water splits the land and where water does not inhibit travel, mountains, deserts, marshes, and… well are there any words to fully describe what exists in the Coast of Storms?
The divisions of land have create a quilt of people and tribes, each with traditions of their own. The Church of Four Orders have, of course, surveyed the inhabitants they feel they rule, seeking Elemental abilities as much as obedience. But of course, if you are only searching for specific traits, you might not see something unexpected… or hidden. You be the judge if you can trust what the Church writes regarding those who inhabit Myrrah!
Tribe of the Southern Shore
Order of Earth
Temple of Solaire
There are many races that live across the breadth of Myrrah. The oldest stone cities are amid the islands of the Archipelago. However, there are tribes who claim their histories are more ancient. This matter cannot be proven and in the end, is trivial. Myrrah and all of her races began when the Goddess created the world and its inhabitants. All are the same age and equally loved by her.
The gifts to control the elements she used to create our world can be found in all cultures. Though some gifts are found more frequently in some races than others. The following pages are outlines of the tribes created by the Goddess Mhyrah and spread across her lands. Where prudent, I have included myths, histories, and beliefs relevant to each race as well as attributes such as language, location, and physical characteristics. May these pages guide you across Myrrah to all of her rich cultures.
The Northern Sarkethians, who refer to themselves as Sarkethians, live along the northern shore of the Sea Sarketh from the Archipelago of Bellaia to the edge of the Coast of Storms. This is a land of warmth and rich soil. Seasonal rains come when the strong storms sweeping from the western coast of Sarketh to the islands of the Archipelago move northward. Where there is no access to rivers, only hardy, drought-resistant crops can be grown, as the Sea is too salty to use for irrigating plants.
Oranges, olives, almonds, figs, and vineyards line the upland shores. The lowlands along the few great rivers grow bounties of vegetables and sweet fruits. Many of the Northern Sarkethians are also fisher folk, bringing in great harvests with their nets. Celebrations around the seasons and times of plenty, or need, are common to these people, who live close to the land and sea.
The folk here are light in complexion, though the skin of those who work outdoors is often tanned. Hair color ranges from flaxen to raven-dark and eyes can match an array of gemstones – green, grey, blue, and hazel the most common. The language of Trade used throughout Myrrah for commerce is originally a mix of Northern Sarkethian and Bellaian. Trade is now spoken as the primary language, though some local dialects include remnant words from older times.
Gifts of any elemental skill are possible. Earth and Water are the most common for these people of the sea and farm. Air and Fire are more rare, but a potential. In olden times there were those gifted with magic: Masters who took on apprentices. They hid their power amid the people in the cities. Despite the Church’s best efforts, this taint is still found by Priests and Priestesses on occasion. It has been noted the gift most often runs in families, though it has been found amid those with no history of this family curse of magic or any Elemental gifts.
The towns have strong central governments. Originally comprised of Elders, in recent times councils are made up of the wisest and wealthiest of the old families. Fathers pass on official positions to sons when trade and farming duties have been sufficiently delegated to the youngest generation to allow the time council seats require. The Church has found it easy to work closely with these governments, as they are organized and have a history with the Orders and hence the Church.
Wealthy cities have grown upon the best ports and harbors. Large markets are the center of trade with merchant ships bringing goods from across Myrrah. Families that have established themselves in a trade are known as Houses. The business passes down between generations, sons and daughters taking part. Youth of this area are also apprenticed for two years, beginning at the age of seventeen. This is considered the age of adulthood. When the apprenticeship is over, the returning youth takes an active part in family business or may set up commerce of their own.
The buildings along the northern shore are rarely remarkable for their beauty. Most homes are stucco, often tinted a light color. Some of the oldest homes or government centers are marble, usually built in a style copied from the Archipelago. Roofs are red tile, nearly the color of the soil. These thick walled homes are practical for keeping out the heat, but the small windows are unexemplary. Only the windows and balconies to the north, or those shaded, are wide and arched, letting in the cooling breezes from the Sea. Kyrron is the largest port along these shores. Dion, Nolta, and Golanna are also known for their markets and vibrant cities, though the latter two are far smaller than either Dion or Kyrron.
The western shores of the Sea of Sarketh are known as the Coast of Storms. Intense storms sweep eastward from the high, inland mountains so frequently that the sun rarely shines, and the land is shrouded in perpetual darkness. Only the hardiest plants can grow in these strong winds and sunless skies. Often, they are stunted or dangerous creations said to be able to eat beasts. One plant is said to dangle vines with which it snatches fish. Another has hollow stems resembling small caves with walls that collapse upon caught prey.
Despite this harsh land where plants eat animals, there are a few small cities peopled by a secretive race. Their skin is as dark as the stormy sky, but their hair is the color of sea foam caught by the moonlight. Their eyes are described to be midnight blue to violet and it is rumored that they can see as well at night as most can see in the day. Most known Western Sarkethians speak trade. It isn’t certain if they have a native tongue other than the common language.
No crops grow in this land. Like the plants, the people here eat mostly meat: fish or beast. Some of the seeds or roots of the carnivorous plants are excellent delicacies, fetching high prices in the markets of the Archipelago. The price, though, could very well be based on the danger associated with collecting the foods than in any way associated with the taste.
The cities are made of the black obsidian stone hewn from the stormy shores. Built thick walled and high above the tide, towers rise into the perpetual clouds. Nearly indiscernible from the rolling sea and dark sky, any approaching ship risks wrecking unless piloted by a native.
Though Air Elementals are common here, the sphere of air was originally found on these shores, with Water and Fire Elementals frequent as well, the Church rarely attempts to come to these ports. The danger is great unless a current Priest is of this race and guides the ship. The population is small and so the Church does not consider the infrequent visits worthy of worry.
The southern shore of the Sea of Sarketh is a place of forested foothills along the slopes of the Alin Mountains. The people here are foresters and boatwrights, building the best ships sailing the sea or the ocean. There are also huntsmen, who journey deep into the mountains in pursuit of rare and often enchanted creatures.
The people are tall and lean. Frequently with brown hair and light colored eyes, green to hazel, they are a fair and pleasant folk. There is only one large city, Finndale, located at the mouth of the Torfel River. This is where the boat building shops and port are located, the lumber for the boats floated down the Torfel to the harbor. The city is built out of wood as well, many of the buildings looking like overturned hulls. With a busy port providing the best ships of Myrrah, Trade is the common language in Finndale. Within the forested lowlands to uplands, a dialect of Trade mixed with strange local words is common.
Outside of Finndale, there are a few small towns of several houses, an inn, and maybe a tradesman or shop. Deep in the forests located on narrow trails, individual lodges of huntsman and their families are to be found. Those living far from the sea are also herdsmen, keeping sheep, deer, and goats as livestock, if not something more unusual.
The Church has no permanent ties here, but visit frequently for deals with boats and other treasure scavenged from within the mountains. Earth Elementals are common as was the outlawed skill of magic. Happily, magic has been exterminated from this land and the Church has not been troubled by its taint in Finndale for nearly a century.
The people who live among the islands and peninsulas of the Archipelago of Bellaia, known as Bellaian, are easily mistaken for the Northern Sarkethian races. Bellaian skin tone is naturally darker than Sarkethian, an olive to deep tan, but the difference is hardly noticeable. Bellaians are easily taken for fisher folk or farmers from the northern shores of the Sea of Sarketh. Hair and eye color is generally dark brown with lighter highlights to both not uncommon.
The Archipelago is home to the oldest cities on Myrrah. Ancient marble streets have been smoothed to resemble one solid slab of stone through centuries of use. Buildings are marble, once colored but now the paint is mostly faded, with large arched windows opening to balconies. Flat roofs have stone spouts to shed rain from the frequent storms. Even the old wharves are made of the same creamy marble with long pillars dropping to the rocky sea floor.
The climate amid the Archipelago is tropical, with frequent rain and periods of strong storms sweeping across the sea from the Coast of Storms. Where the waters of the Sea of Sarketh and the Ocean of Ilaiya meet, great storms brew to further douse the islands. Hence the Cities have been built deep between the peninsulas or on the lee sides of mountainous islands to protect them from the worst winds.
The warmth and storms allow lush jungles to grow. Ancient warding stones hold back the wild plants and animals or else these great cities would have long ago been consumed. Often the buildings appear to be part of the jungle anyway with rooftop and hanging gardens of fragrant flowers and sweet fruits. Terraced fields grow crops that can withstand the frequent dousing such as rice, canes, and succulent fruits. Many families are traders or work on large fishing vessels. Indeed, the common language known as Trade is primarily based on the original Bellaian language, most likely due to the early seafaring ability of this race.
Many families have grown to be very wealthy. So much so that many wealthy families do not send their children to apprenticeships as was once common and still done along the northern shore of the Sea of Sarketh, or do so only for a brief period of a month. Most often, young adults stay home to manage the family business without this time of trial and manual learning.
Government of the cities is very controlled and highly active in all divisions of status. City council men and women are often professional statesmen, employing servants to run farms or fishing fleets while they live full time in the city. Rules, taxes, and a strong central authority are upheld and honored by even beggars on the street.
Trading over the centuries has brought many people to the greatest cities of the Archipelago, creating multi-ethnic societies. The Church’s influence here is strong. The Archipelago is often called Solaire’s Mirror for the number of small Temples and year round residences for Priests and Priestesses amid the cities on the peninsulas. The Temple of Solaire is even closely located east of the Archipelago across a narrow span of the Ocean of Ilaiya. The fact that control of any of the four elements is possible, and somewhat common, among the Bellaians is another reason for the strong ties between the peninsulas and the Church.
Portoreayl is the greatest city in the Archipelago and arguable the largest city on Myrrah. Other great ports include Tiero, Nenif, Palona.
The cities along the Southern Shore rest between the Great Desert of Ak’Ashanti and the Ocean of Ilaiya. The largest and most vibrant is Rah Hahsessah, built on excavated canals to allow watery commerce deep into the heart of the city. Rah Hahsessah is the only city of the Southern Shore constructed where there was no natural port. Placed strategically to be close to the dangerous shipping lane, which crosses from the Archipelago of Bellaia, its position and determination have made it a bustling port.
The buildings along the Southern Shore are squat and thick-walled, with narrow windows. Designed to block the desert heat and sandstorms, these cities are not renowned for their beauty. It is at dusk when the heat fades that these ports come to life. Markets and tradesman ply business from dusk to mid-morning amid the lantern lit canals.
The native people here are naturally dark: mid to dark brown skin, black hair, and dark brown to black eyes. The unstructured government and easy rules as well as busy port have enticed many to move to the cities here and now people of many races call the Southern Shore home. During the daylight hours, it is often difficult to tell what race or gender a tradesman may be as clothing usually consists of long robes with scarves wrapped around the head, concealing the face. This is done to protect against the sun and sand.
When the sun sets, the robes change to flowing dresses with scarves for the women, embroidered shirts and pants for the men. Often a view of abundant tanned skin is available, along with flashing jewelry and vibrant silk. Seekers of amusement as well as goods for commerce will find many delights along the Southern Shore. The cities are places of passion, but peaceful.
The government of the cities is made of a large body of inherited seats not based on age or position. These councils rarely meet and few decisions are ever made. The cities of the Southern Shore have only the one enforced rule: trouble that interferes with trade is not allowed. All pursuits are to glorify peace and beauty. Punishment for infraction of this rule is quick and severe, with problems smoothed over and forgotten as soon as possible.
The cities of this culture once extended far south along the Ocean of Ilaiya. The Great Desert of Ak’Ashanti came in a series of storms that devoured the cities and lush tropical forests growing along the coast. Now the desert is all that is south of Tabook beyond a scattering of small villages and the shells of the once vibrant towns are known as the Abandoned Coast.
Many Fire Elementals have been born along the Southern Shore. The other elements are also possible, but less common. The Church maintains many Priests and Priestesses within these cities, but there is little influence on the laissez faire government. The Priestesses often must seek potential candidates by walking the markets and streets. There are no great festivals where youth are presented to Priestesses, such as along the northern cities of the Sea of Sarketh.
Members of the Order of Fire and others, who were born along the Southern Shore, often seek to return to these cities. This helps to give the Church a foothold here and strengthens the rule of non-violence, which the Church strives to keep.
The Kith live within the misty Forest of Falin. Their city, built of living trees, is Lus na Sithchaine and lies deep in the forest. Wary of outsiders, they built the port city of Drufforth as a means to intercept outsiders and either bid them welcome or turn them away. Wayfarers find their way to Drufforth, where they live on the border of the forest and work with the Kith, creating herbal medicines and growing amazing crops amid the lush forests.
The Kith are a unique race. Their spirit is joined with a tree at birth. They live and die by the health and longevity of their tree. Six to eight hundred or more years is a common lifespan. Whether it is this joining or some other strange trait, the skin of a Kith is patterned like bark. The colors can range from pale white to very dark – all the shades of a forest. Eye color varies from green to grey to hazel or brown. Their hair is rather normal: flaxen, gold, russets and browns. Black hair is uncommon and usually attributed to offspring of a Kith to non-Kith marriage, which happens infrequently. However, such a marriage is said to grant the same long lifespan to the non-Kith spouse. This ability is of great interest to the Church.
Attributed to their connection to trees, the Kith rarely leave the forest, which lies at the northern border of Myrrah. Generally peaceful, they are skilled fighters when they must defend their homeland. The Kith are strong Earth Elementals as well. Every child born to them has skill. However, they do not define themselves as such. But the Kith have the ability to shape wood and stone, which are Earth Elemental traits. They also have control over living plants, which the Church attributes to their connection to the forest at birth. They use this connection to shape houses of living trees both on the ground and aerially amid the forest canopy, which can be upwards of eight hundred feet high.
The society is extremely community-oriented. There is only the one city where everyone resides. Decisions are made by three elders, but with group input. They speak an ancient language, but are familiar with Trade due to their contact with outsiders in Drufforth. Few non-Kith rarely enter Lus na Sithchaine.
The Church has long sought an allegiance with the Kith. Repeated invitations for them to join the Order of Earth have been sent with envoys, but they were turned away at Drufforth. During the War of the Orders, the Church was even more persistent in the request for the Kith to join the newly formed Church of Four Orders lest they ally themselves with those who wielded magic. When the Kith refused, the combined Orders felt the need to compel them. Some Priests even believed the Kith to have been responsible for the fall of the Temple of Mists, as it lay along the borders of the Forest of Falin.
The Kith resisted this effort of the Church and many battles were fought. A scarred wasteland existed along the southern border of the forest for several centuries until young trees began to grow again. The fight was left at a stalemate. Many Kith and Elementals were killed, reducing the power of both. The Kith belong within the Order of Earth. Eventually the Church will convince them of this fact.
Ishian Boy from Ashi’Shinai
Within the Marsh of Isha at the easternmost edge of the Bay of Tiak live the Ishian or Marsh People. This land is a web of wetlands and stream channels that drain and fill with the great tides of the Bay. Ashi’Shinai is the largest grouping of houses that can be called a town and is where most trade with outsiders is done.
Their native language is incomprehensible and some of the learned members of the Church do not think it a true language at all. It sounds like water gurgling or haunting birdcalls, sounds mimicking the marsh. But most Ishians speak Trade well and commerce is done in this language. Despite this fact, the Ishians are mostly quiet near Priests, tolerating their presence with hostile indifference.
The Ishians are a thin, long fingered and limbed people. It has been said they have webbed fingers and toes. From an early age, they mark their naturally dark tan skin with flowing black tattoos, even across their faces. They wear their dark brown hair long, often in braids accented with reeds and beads. Ishians have very dark eyes.
With few and only shrubby trees and no livestock, the Ishians weave their clothes from the long fibers of the marsh reed, making a cloth they call linen. They die the fabric natural colors and accent the many-pocketed garb with intricate beadwork and other bright accents, including iridescent scales. They wear no shoes.
The houses are built on stilts above the tide line. Elevated pathways connect the square homes. Building material is a hard reed that grows along the northern shore of the marsh and is called bamboo. Even the narrow marsh canoes used for travel in this wetland are made from carefully fitted pieces of bamboo. The walls of the homes are woven of marsh fronds. The roofs overhand the walls by several feet to protect from rain and so that small gardens can be planted along the roof edge, as there is no other dry and protected place for crops to grow.
The marsh is the home and spirit of these people, yet they claim they are there by permission. The land is not really theirs. It belongs to the ancient water dragon Isha, who lives deep in the marsh. Indeed, there is a rolling light and mist at night visible deep in the marsh. If this is the dragon Isha, she would be the only known living dragon on Myrrah.
The Ishians say Isha carved the channels of the Marsh to create a nest for her children. Despite Isha being the benefactor of the Ishian people, the Ishians hunt snakes and small marsh lizards, which they say are her offspring in different age forms. Their explanation is that this is Isha’s way, as she only wants the smartest and strongest of her children to survive. Before the young dragon hatchlings leave for the sea, the Ishians say the hatchlings are able to talk and often communicate with the Ishians in the language of the marsh.
There are few Elementals born here and no known adult Ishian Elementals. Occasionally, Water Elementals are born to these people. When the skill of the child is discovered, usually by the age of four, the Ishians ‘gift’ the child to Isha in a small reed boat. They call this the Exchange of Children: Isha’s hatchlings for their gifted children. The most gifted and talented of children are said to survive and to be trained by Isha herself. With the scant tolerance of Church members and the tradition of sending talented children into the marsh to die, the Church rarely visits this land of water. Occasional explorations deep into the marsh to look for the mythic Isha have been undertaken. None have returned.
Across the Plains of Umbrel live the Nifail, the Tribe of the Steppes. Nomadic by nature, they have no permanent cities. Instead, they reside in collapsible round tents, which are carried on the stocky ponies common to this rolling grassland.
The Nifail are a difficult tribe to become familiar with, almost as difficult as Western Sarkethians and the Ishians. Despite their short stature, they are fierce warriors. The leader of a clan is the strongest warrior, male or female. This test of strength is challenged and decided annually when all the clans come together deep in heart of the Steppes. Some of these combats have been to the death. This is the only time that the Church can logistically visit with the Nifail, otherwise it would be impossible to track down each clan across their wanderings of the plains. Hence, rather nervous Priests visit during the annual games of combat to seek gifted children, most often Air or Earth Elementals. When children are found, the Priest leaves quickly with the selected child and often tells of feeling threatened by the Nifail clan. But so far, the Nifail have not resisted the Church taking their gifted children and so the Church has not addressed the perceived hostility.
The Nifail have an olive cast to their skin, a greenish hue darker than in the Bellaian race. Their eyes are narrow, which they say helps them see vast distances across the Steppes. Hair color is black to reddish and is worn long in very intricate braids. Horse hair is woven into wrap-around shirts that are fastened with wooden pegs or leather straps. Pants, boots, belts are all horse leather. This garb is common to both genders, though at festivals woman can be found wearing flowing dresses of multi-hued scarves. The Nifail make beautiful and perfectly balanced throwing knives. Several are worn at a time tucked into the wide waist belt.
A Nifail encampment is first seen by the silken banners tied to the highest point of every circular tent. This race prizes fluttering cloth and braids it into their horses’ hair, tie it on tents, and fly magnificent kites with tails made of streaming cloth. There is always a breeze blowing across the plains, to flutter fabric and making distant communication nearly impossible. The native Nifail language is very loud to carry over the wind and hills. The tongue is also exceptionally dense. Pauses and accents can vastly change meanings. No Priest has ever learned more than a few words.
The Steppes have a tendency toward drought for a few months during the year. The Nifail disappear from the plains during this time. One visiting Priestess said a child had told her that the Nifail go into hidden crevasses and sinkholes scattered across the plains. In these hidden retreats, there are homes in the rocks and pools of water protected from the sun. They live there as fire eats the dry grass above them. This may be true, but no one besides a Nifail has ever seen these underground homes.
The Nifail move often enough that crops are not grown. Instead the Nifail forage from the land, finding grain, fruits, and wild vegetables. They hunt game that range the Steppes as well, including a great bird that nests on the plains. This winged beast is said to be large enough to carry off a full sized Steppe pony and has even been known to capture Nifail children.
There is a Nifail legend about this white bird of prey. They say long ago a Nifail maid came upon an injured bird, which towered over her. She was afraid for her life, but the bird did not attack. Instead, it transformed into a young man, who beseeched her help, for his arm was broken and he could not fly. She took pity on him and nursed him back to health, though he was never a strong flyer again. They fell in love and wed, having many children. All of them had soft feathers for hair. Indeed, it is said that this is why the Nifail wear their hair in braids – because really some of the strands are feathers.
The Ashanti are little known to the Church or to anyone beyond the borders of the Southern Shore. Mysterious and elusive, the Church believes them to be strong Earth Elementals as their cities move across the desert like floating islands, visible to most as mirages remaining always out of reach. What little is known of them is from a few of the Order of Earth living in the Temple of Stone, who became friends with the Ashanti long before the War of the Orders.
Their native language is an ancient dialect. In fact, records state that the Ashanti consider themselves the oldest race on Myrrah, made first by the Goddess. In form they have slitted, dark eyes and tan skin. Dressed in flowing desert robes including gloves and boots, their shape and stature are difficult to discern. Some of the old writings say that they have claw-like nails and padded feet hidden by their soft boots and gloves. One Earth Elemental wrote that they have a tail and scales across their belly and along their spine, which is certainly a fabrication.
It is true that they have sharp incisors and are fond of eating meat. Adapted to the desert, they do not need to drink much water and can go for days without the need to quench their thirst. Animals often shy from them, knowing that for such as the Ashanti all other beasts are potential sources of food. It is also written that they love the heat of the desert and dislike the ocean or places that are damp and cold.
The greatest legend of the Ashanti is that they, the first children of Myrrah, once nearly had conquered the world. This was a time beyond memory or record, during the earliest days. To thwart their plans to rule as demigods, it took Mhyrah herself to stop them. She remade her first children along with their mounts: dragons of this early land. The recreated Ashanti were given short lives, so that they would not again raise an army for battles. Instead, they would be involved with struggles within their kind for power and the survival of their culture. The Earth Elemental, who wrote this tale, said the Ashanti who had related it to her was only twenty-two yet was old and infirm as a man of grandfatherly years.
During this war before all other battles, some of the Ashanti had stood against their brothers. These Myrrah gifted with the very abilities the Ashanti had sought. These few, who had fought the insanity of their brothers, were given eternal life and the same power over elements that Mhyrah had, but with once exception. She gave them supreme control over only one element, but not all, by making them spirit beings of that element. They became the fire sylphs, water nymphs, air spirits, and earth beings that the Elementals call upon today to do their bidding.
Of course, this is only a legend related by a long dead member of the Order of Earth, who had befriended one of the secretive Ashanti. It is a beautiful legend explaining the creation of elemental spirit beings, but cannot be given much weight. The oldest cities are within the Archipelago. The Ashanti are a small desert tribe, wishing to cast themselves as something far greater.
Within the confining safety of the Fjords of Kari lies the home of the Tiak. The great Bay of Tiak is named after this race, for beyond their borders are uninhabited water and shores. This land marks the western border of Myrrah.
The Tiak are strong sailors, setting out in narrow boats rigged with sails and paddles on tides that rise and fall tens of feet compounded by strong, gusty winds. These fast boats are too small to carry many goods, so the Tiak have come to rely on larger boats manned by intrepid sailors, who ferry merchandise from Ashi’Shinai to the villages in the Fjords. An overland route connects Ashi’Shainai to Rah Hahsessah, allowing trade from the Sea of Sarketh to the westernmost villages of Tiak. More than the occasional traveler has never successfully navigated routes from Finndale through the Alin Mountains. The heights of these mountains make the transportation of merchandise impossible for most of the year.
A quiet people, the Tiak have a creamy tan skin contrasted by dark hair and eyes, though occasional green and blue-eyed children are born. Every act for them is a ritual, and accomplished by mindful choice. No action is ever wasteful. Even the children are direct in their play, appearing reserved compared to the gamboling youth of the Archipelago.
The towns of the Tiak are small villages compared to the stone cities lining the Sea of Sarketh. The houses are wooden and built of lumber from the evergreen Yisha trees, which grow on the southern side of the Alin Mountains. These trees have a pale yellow bark that appears golden in the sunlight. The grey slate of the Fjords is used as roofing, so that a clustering of houses seen from afar appears as a small forest set against low stone hills.
A chief Elder rules each town and together the Elders govern the Tiak. Once, the oldest Elementals in each village were part of the council of Elders. Powerful Air Elementals were common to this race, but no longer. The last recorded birth of a skilled child was over two hundred years ago.
It is a tradition that, though revered, Elementals of this culture cannot marry. With no children born to Elemental parents, the trait seems to have been bred out. This supports the idea of many in the Church that Elemental gifts are passed down through families.
Truly, this is a shame, for of all the far-flung races of Myrrah the Tiak are very receptive to the Church. To this day, the Elders remain in correspondence with chosen Priests. They tell us of the towns and births, the seasons and harvests, and invite us to their far away cities. Someone from the Church makes the trip every five years or so, but it is not considered a search for gifted children any longer. The Ishians and the Tiak are lost races for Elemental skills.
The Fjords of Karii are rocky. The Bay is salty, but many rivers and streams flow from the northward lying Alin Mountains. With near constant wind and thin soil, gardens are grown behind low stone walls, which act as windbreaks. Much time is spent tending these gardens, both vegetable and ornamental, so that divisions of labor have evolved. Some families are gardeners, some fish the rivers, some log in the forest or collect a sweet, red berry from the Yisha tree, and others are skilled sailors of the narrow Tiak boats and travel between the towns and onto the Bay.
Clothing for men and women is fairly similar with short, loose pants, sandals, and a straight lined jacket with large front pockets. For women, the jacket is usually longer, falling below knee length. Except for working garb, fabric is often brocaded with intricate patterns and tassels to catch the wind.
The ecology of this land has fascinated the learned for centuries. The headlands along the Fjords are often misty and subject to frequent, gentle rains. The Yisha trees, only found along this southern section of the Alin Mountains, grow thick in these damp conditions. But, the pines need fire to regenerate. Only intense heat will crack the thick covering over the seeds.
There is a small click beetle that feasts on the wood of the Yisha tree. In the evening and during afternoon rains, the click of their wings can be heard throughout the forest. Over time as the click beetle infests sections of the forest, the trees begin to take up minerals through their roots: mica, iron, zinc, and calcium. The beetles eat this wood and ingest the minerals, forming harder and harder shells as they decimate the forest.
Every decade or so, dry winds sweep up from the Great Desert of Ak’Ashanti, which lies to the south. The winds cross the Bay of Tiak and push away the gentle rains. The land dries and withers. In the places plagued by beetles, the hardened shells take on a new purpose. When hard and dry enough, the beetles click and create a spark. The forest catches fire.
Smoke from the great fires rises on the hot winds, climbing high over the mountains. The ash mixes with the melting snow of the mountain glaciers, evaporating in the heat of fire and desert winds. Clouds form and the rains come again. The fires burn out the home of the beetles, reducing their population. And it allows the seeds opened from the heat to sprout, so that new trees will grow on the burnt slopes. The cycle begins again.
The Erowok are the only tribe native to the Island of Kailal. Like the Nifail, the Erowok are nomadic and travel across the rolling moors in the center of the island. They stay far from the Temple of Solaire built on the southwestern shore, but there are always Priests who can find the Erowok when needed.
Magic runs deep in the race, just as prevalence for some Elements can be found in others: the Kith with earth, the Tiak with air. During the War of the Orders, the Erowok tribes were nearly eradicated and only a pact made by the remaining few, agreeing never to use their powers, allowed their survival.
The Erowok live in knotted and woven grass houses, lightweight and easily transported across the moors. Small villages sprout overnight as they follow game and the seasons. Like the Tiak, they are a thoughtful group. Actions are done to remain in harmony with life and the balance of elements around them. They only take game and trees when it is time. They say they move when the earth and plants say they have taken enough and must travel on.
They dress in simple pants and tunics made of fine fibrous grass, often knotted in patterns. All the colors for dying this cloth are derived of plants and soil, so that to look at them they seem one with the land. Even their skin is nearly the color of the red cliffs of the northern Sea of Sarketh or darker still to a deep brown. Hair color is usually a blue-black and eyes are dark as well: black, sometimes tinged with violet. As a rule, they are a tall people and lithely built with strong muscles.
Few members of this tribe remain. Only small numbers of children are born. They keep to their pact with the Church of Four Orders. None use their tainted gifts unless directed by the Inner Council.
The Valain, so called after their largest town of Valin, live along the northeastern arm of the Archipelago on the shores of the Ocean of Iliyia. To the north are the closed borders of the Kith and the depths of the Forest of Falin. The bustling port cities of the Archipelago with their crossroads of commerce lie to their south. The Valain care not. They keep to themselves and their ways, which have not changed for multitudes of generations.
Their lands are treeless, rolling moss-covered lands of stone. There is a legend that they once cut the wood of the forests without asking permission from the Kith, and so the Kith took the forest away from their land. Without wood, they cut houses into the stony earth and support them from timbers washed up by the tide. Roofs are made of cut sod. Peat is used to fuel cooking fires.
The Valain have great knowledge of the ocean and can navigate by the stars, so they must have once been a great seafaring people. Now they keep only narrow canoes, often built of delicate strips of wood and covered with the hide of strange beasts from lands as far away as the Northern Plain of Lakes. A few marvelous wooden boats of ancient heritage and design have been handed down through the strongest families.
There is a rite of passage for the young men and women of this land. When they are of age to begin households of their own, they must first prove themselves as true Valains. They journey northwest using sleds assembled like the light framed canoes, which are pulled by tamed wolves or caribou, and travel far inland during the frozen months. There they hunt the great northern beasts to return up to a year later with grand hides and tusks. Sometimes, they never return at all.
They are a race small in stature, but not stocky. Fair haired with eyes the color of grass or the sky, the Valain are a fine-featured people. Surprisingly with their hard lives and tough ways, they are great musicians. Many play a variety of instruments from harp to flute to hand drum. Few outsiders are aware of this pastime, since the Valain do not welcome many. But like the Archipelago, some Priestesses and Priest reside on these difficult shores yearlong.
Air and Earth, even occasionally Fire, Elementals are born here. Often they show potential for powerful gifts. Sometimes the taint of magic is found here as well, with the same prevalence for strong ability. Between the borders of the hostile and adept Kith to the north and the gifted children born to the Valain, the Church must keep a watchful eye here, despite a lifestyle a far cry to that offered within the Temple or along the fingers of the Archipelago.
The myth of the Torek was first heard on the shores of Finndale. A hunter had journeyed far into the Alin Mountains. On his return, he claimed to have met a white eagle, which stood taller than he and could talk. The man carried with him a large white feather as proof. In drawings, it resembles a plume from an albino ostrich. How he had come by such a creature in the Alin Mountains would be a far more interesting tale than that of a fantastical bird tribe.
The story would end there and continue to be discounted, and so not part of this compilation, if not for records from the fallen Temple of Winds. These writings were housed at the great library in the Temple of Stone and found there amid its ruins when Priests from the new Church of Four Orders scavenged documents after the War of the Orders.
These records tell of several members of the Torek known to the Order of Air. Indeed, one entry said many of the Torek were hosted at a feast on the grounds of the Temple high in the Alin Mountains. These creatures are said to be immensely large, white to light tan plumed birds in form similar to hawks. However, they tower over a tall man by another half again in height and their wingspan can stretch the length of the largest merchant ships. Their beaks, eyes, and legs are said to be the color of ebony.
The scrolls do not say how the Torek communicate; only that Torek had carried messages for the Order of Air and given them warnings. From what is written, no Air Elemental ever visited the home of the Torek. But, they are supposed to have said their homeland is deep within the mountain range amid the eternal snows. Comfortable nest-like caves dug into the stone are described as the nest like homes of Torek families.
Giant hawks that live in caves is almost a good of a tale as a white ostrich loose in the forests of Finndale.
The Aquinians are barely known and the instance of them in legend is quite rare. Their existence would be discounted if not for the Order of Fire after the fall of the Temple of Incendia. The Aquinians saved the lives of the Fire Elementals and if not for this mysterious tribe, the entire Order and their families would have drowned.
Sailors over the years have written of sea creatures that could speak, or of distant islands where naked men and women were seen on the shore. But as the ship approached, these unknown people would dive into the waves, becoming seals or dolphins. The island would be searched and found to be empty with no signs of dwellings, gardens, or other habitation.
The Aquinians would have existed only as myth if not for their heroic act to save the Order of Fire. When the Temple fell, the Fire Elementals fled to the shores. There were not enough boats in harbor to carry all who dwelt at the Temple. Survivors mention that many of the boats in port were afire as well. Though the flames were quickly controlled, the wooden husks were too badly charred to be of use. With molten stones raining down on the shore, the only choice for the Order was to wade into the sea.
Huddled on the edge of the island’s reef, the Order of Fire resigned themselves to death. Then a young porpoise approached a crying child. It is said this creature of the sea told the child not to cry. The porpoise left to bring back its family so that they could save all who sheltered on the reef.
When he returned, the tide was coming in. Children had taken refuge in the arms of terrified parents. Quickly, the Aquinians offered up their sleek backs. They carried the survivors for many hours across the ocean to bring them to the shores of the Island of Kailal. There, exhausted themselves, the Aquinians left the Order of Fire before slipping back into the sea. This is the last account of this marvelous race.
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